Lonesome George, the last survivor of the subspecies Chelonnoidis abingdoni died on June 24, 2012. George was believed to be more than 100 years old, a young adult for most giant tortoises that can live to be 200 years old.
George was discovered on the Galapagos island of Pinta in 1972 by a Hungarian scientist. Once it had been determined that George was the last of his kind, he was taken into captivity for his safety. Since then, scientist have tried several times to have George mate with females with similar genetic make-up. In one situation, George did mate, but the eggs produced were infertile. After several failed attempts, George’s subspecies was pronounced to be functionally extinct.
Giant tortoises of the Galapagos were plentiful up until the 19th century. Their species was put into danger by excessive hunting for their meat and the devastation of vegetation in their habitat by wild goats.
An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of George’s death. He will most likely be embalmed so that he may be preserved for generations to come.